Yet more lies from the Obama administration.
Kerry said on Monday, November 24, in Vienna – the “deadline” for the negotiations with Iran over it’s nuclear program:
I would say to those who are skeptical. Those who wonder whether we should rush ahead down a different course. I believe the United States and our partners have earned the benefit of the doubt at this point. Many were quick to say that the Joint Plan of Action would be violated; it wouldn’t hold up; it would be shredded. Many said that Iran would not hold up its end of the bargain. Many said that the sanctions regime would collapse. But guess what? The interim agreement wasn’t violated. Iran has held up its end of the bargain. And the sanctions regime has remained intact.
The following is by Omri Ceren from The Israel Project:
Violations of Nuclear Restrictions – Advanced Centrifuges
Under the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), Iran had committed to freeze its centrifuge activities at Natanz. Nevertheless, the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quarterly report noted that Iran was feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into it’s IR-5 centrifuges at Natanz.
Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, said Iran considered the activities Research and Development (R & D) and said that it would continue feeding UF6 into its advanced centrifuges.
Violations of Nuclear Restrictions – Uranium Stockpiling
While Iran is allowed to continue enriching uranium to 5% under the JPA, it is not allowed to increase its overall stockpile of uranium during the JPA period. The IAEA’s report, released earlier this month, however, notes that Iran’s stockpile of LEU “has grown by 8 percent to nearly 8.4 tonnes in about two months.”
With the advanced IR-5 centrifuges that Iran continues to test, low-enrichment uranium (LEU) could easily be enriched up to 90%, making it usable for nuclear weapons.
Violations of Sanctions Restrictions – Oil Export Caps
The IEA reported this spring that Iranian crude exports were far exceeding the 1 million barrel-per-day limit set by the P5+1* as a key condition for the JPA. In reality, Iran was exporting more than 1.65 million barrels per day. While administration officials insisted that, on average, Iranian exports would remain around 1 million barrels per day, shipments of oil and condensate continued to increase throughout the summer.
Even though Asian importers bought less Iranian crude in October, shipments were still above the 1 million barrel per day limit, violating Iran’s JPA commitments.
*P5+1 = the five permanent members of the UN security Council (US, UK, France, Russia, China) plus Germany.
Secretary of State Kerry says 40 countries will be in coalition with the US in its war with IS/ISIS/ISIL.
Which states would those be?
According to CNN:
On Sunday, Kerry said countries in the Middle East are willing to help with strikes against ISIS, but … “it’s not appropriate to start announcing which nations will participate and what each will do.”
Because you see, fact is, apart from the US, nobody’s doin’ nothin’ nohow – except make a few promises with their fingers crossed.
Australia says it will send up to eight combat aircraft, one airborne early warning and control aircraft, and one multirole tanker and transport aircraft. In case somebody over there knows how to use them. No troops.
Great Britain says it would seriously consider helping to arm Kurdish forces if Kurdish forces were to fight ISIS beyond their own borders.
Canada says it already sent sent some ammunition to somebody and will maybe send some advisers to somewhere in Iraq.
France declares that it has contributed 18,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition. And, what is more, it has performed one or two humanitarian aid drops to refugees somewhere in the region. And more still – it promises to do some bombing perhaps at some time. Somewhere.
The Netherlands says it will definitely try to stop would-be fighters leaving to go and help ISIS.
Turkey says, word of honor, it will cut the flow of money to ISIS and… and … has already begun to think about how to stop foreigners crossing its territory to join ISIS.
Jordan says it will provide intelligence.
Saudi Arabia says it will train fighters against ISIS if any present themselves for such training. Also, along with Qatar and Egypt, it will spread anti-ISIS messages and encourage imams to say really nasty things against the group.
Iran has said it will do absolutely nothing to help the US which, it says, is only fighting ISIS because it wants to dominate the region. (At present Iran is dominating much of the region.)
Iraqi Kurdistan is willing to send their Peshmerga forces to fight beyond their borders if and when there’s a comprehensive international strategy put in place – which there is not.
The remaining 30 – unnamed – participating countries are keeping information about their contributions each to itself. They’re not even telling Kerry. Why be so nosy? They deserve a little privacy, don’t they? It’s every state’s right.
President Obama does not want to take action agains the Islamic State. But opinion polls have forced him to utter some platitudes about keeping America safe and the Islamic State being a bad thing (though “not Islamic”, he says), and to make a military gesture or two by sending a few American personnel to Iraq and having the US Air Force bomb a few IS sites. But you mustn’t call it aggressive war, what he’s doing. If it must be called “war” at all, then it must be something the whole world wants to do so the US has no choice but to go along with the wish of so overwhelming a community.
He has sent that great negotiator John Kerry. who has a record of success in his diplomatic ventures (being sarcastic here), to form a coalition.
And it looks as if Kerry will be as successful as ever he was. He has not managed to form a coalition. Not with Arab states. Not with Islamic states. Not with European states.
Iraq might say it will join, but it has only a diminished and intimidated army.
Egypt and Jordan have refused to join.
Turkey has not only refused, but has denied airbases on its territory for US or any other airstrikes against IS.
Britain and Germany will send arms to the Kurdish peshmerga forces to fight IS, but will not take part directly in the fighting.
France … Ah, France! President Francois Hollande is as eager to lead the chimerical coalition as President Obama is reluctant to do it. Last Friday he personally accompanied a vast amount of materiel to Baghdad. He plans to host the occasion in Paris on Monday when – if – a coalition will be formed. And he has invited Iran to participate.
Our information comes largely from DebkaFile, from which we quote the following:
Friday, Obama appointed Gen. John R. Allen, former commander in Afghanistan and western Iraq, to lead the coalition forces in the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levan.
It is hard to see what combat forces he will lead, in view of the mixed international responses so far to Washington’s appeals for a global coalition to combat terror.
In the years 2006-2008, Gen. Allen commanded the US II Marine Expeditionary Force, which successfully fought Al Qaeda under Musab Zarqawi’s leadership in western Iraq’s Anbar province. He led what was then dubbed the “Awakening” project, which rallied the region’s Sunni tribes to the fight.
President Obama appears to be hinging his campaign against the new Islamist scourge on Gen. Allen repeating that success. …
The prospects of this happening in 2014 are fairly slim, because the circumstances are so different:
1. To support the Sunni Awakening venture, President George W. Bush authorized the famous “surge” which placed an additional 70,000 US troops on the Iraqi battlefield. However, Obama has vowed not to send US combat troops back to Iraq in significant numbers, and has approved no more than a few hundred American military personnel.
2. In 2006, Iraqi Sunnis trusted American pledges. They agreed to turn around and fight fellow Sunni Al Qaeda after being assured by Washington that they would not lose their status and rights in Baghdad, and that the US would give them weapons and salaries. In 2009, they realized that the Obama administration would not stand by the Bush administration’s assurances. Their disillusion with America and the rise of a Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad pushed them into the arms of ISIS.
3. Since then Iraq’s Sunni leaders have learned not to trust anyone. Today, they are hedging their bets, their tribal leaders split into two opposing camps between Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and the Islamic State, on the other. For the first time since the US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, Iraq’s Sunni leaders feel they are in the saddle and in a position to set a high price for their support.
All this leaves President Obama and Gen. Allen on the threshold of a war on Islamist terrorists, which everyone agrees needs to be fought without delay, but without enough political leverage for going forward or much chance of mustering the right troops to lead – even into the first battle.
A US security team in Benghazi was held back from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission on orders of the top CIA officer there, three of those involved told Fox News Bret Baier.
The three men – Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen – were ready to go but told more than once not to go. The Obama administration, endlessly trying to excuse its moral turpitude, insists that no order to “stand down” was ever given. Maybe, but “do not go” is an order to stand down.
They finally ignored orders and went – but got there too late to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith.
We quote from Scared Monkeys:
Their account gives a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an “old story” – the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Speaking out publicly for the first time, the three were security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi – in effect, the first-responders to any attack on the diplomatic compound.
Based on the new book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, the special sets aside the political spin that has freighted the Benghazi issue for the last two years, presenting a vivid, compelling narrative of events from the perspective of the men who wore the “boots on the ground”.
Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.
“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said.
Tiegen concurred: “I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today.”
See the video of the interview here.
President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, must be held responsible for those deaths.
We’re delighted by every sign that the Obama henchmen – and henchwomen – are scared of what Fox News is discovering and broadcasting about Benghazi, where the regime allowed the US ambassador and three other Americans to be killed by Libyan terrorists. Fox News has found more and more evidence that the administration refused to send help, and that they’ve been trying to cover up their guilt ever since. Now Greta van Susteren reveals yet another effort to stop the truth emerging.
Under Obama, America has switched sides.
Caroline Glick, one of the most astute reporters and commentators on Middle East affairs, draws that conclusion, and explains why:
When US President Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday night … he ended any remaining doubt regarding his policy toward Israel and Hamas.
Obama told Netanyahu that Israel must lose. He wants an unconditional “humanitarian” cease-fire that will lead to a permanent one.
And he wants it now.
And … the eventual terms of that cease-fire must include opening Hamas-controlled Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel and ending Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza coast.
That is, the cease-fire must allow Hamas to rebuild its arsenal of death and destruction quickly, with US political and financial support. …
Obama is siding with Hamas, and its Muslim Brotherhood patrons in Qatar and Turkey, against Israel, and its Sunni Arab supporters – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
It is Obama who demands that Hamas have open borders so it can resupply, and receive billions of dollars – starting with an immediate cash injection of $47 million from US taxpayers – so it can pay North Korea for more missiles and import building materials to reconstruct its tunnels. …
[Obama’s] White House will never acknowledge that Israel is in the right, or that it is fighting a moral war against a barbaric foe. And since the administration will never be satisfied, Israel can expect to be condemned by various UN bodies, including the Security Council, because no matter what it does to try to earn the support of the administration, it will never receive such support. …
The [Israeli] Left understands that the administration’s behavior has destroyed it. Leftists can no longer say that Israeli territorial withdrawals will win it international support. They can no longer say that Israel will receive US support if it places the security of Palestinian civilians above the security of its own civilians and military forces. They can no longer say that the PLO is the answer.
The Israeli Left has been Obama’s ace in the hole since he first ran for office, fresh from the pews in Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Semitic church. … They were the ones who could be counted on to tell the US media and the American Jews that Netanyahu is to blame for Obama’s hostility. …
Through his actions, Obama demonstrated that his “love affairs with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region,” are so central to his foreign policy calculations that he is willing to destroy the Israeli Left in order to strengthen the Brotherhood.
And this leads us to the larger point about Obama’s foreign policy, which his Sunday night telephone call to Netanyahu revealed. As rattled as Israelis are over Obama’s decision to support Hamas against Israel, Netanyahu made clear in his remarks Monday night that Israel has no choice but to keep fighting until we defeat this barbaric enemy.
Netanyahu didn’t mention Obama, but it was obvious that he was respectfully refusing to hand Israel’s head on a platter to Hamas’s friend in the White House.
And while it is hard for Israel to ignore Obama, it is impossible for Americans to ignore him. He runs their foreign policy.
Americans are the ones who need to be most alarmed by what Obama’s actions on behalf of Hamas reveal about the general direction of American Middle East policy under his leadership.
Obama’s choice of a vicious Islamic terrorist organization over a democratic US ally should not come as a surprise to anyone. He has signaled his bias so clearly that it could not be missed by anyone paying attention. There was his pro-Islam speech in Cairo early in his presidency; there were his bows and apologies for his country to the Saudis (though now he has turned to more radical Muslim powers than they); there are his repeated claims (purely fictitious) that Muslims made an important contribution to building the United States; there is his continuing aid to Iran, with friendly talks that give the mullahs time to develop their nuclear arms program; and plainest of all there is his open support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of Hamas. Not only has he tried to keep that self-announced enemy of America (and of the whole non-Muslim world) in power in Egypt, he has placed Muslim Brothers in departments of his own government as advisers. They would hardly be advising him to let Israel win against their own sub-organization Hamas, would they now?
Caroline Glick knows this, of course:
The problem is that in every war, in every conflict and in every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since Obama took office, he has sided with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, against America’s allies.
It is good if a part of the Left (the Israeli part at least) has woken up to Obama’s real agenda – the destruction of Israel and the triumph of Islam – and is shocked by it. But most of the Left everywhere else is unlikely to care very much, or they’ll positively like it.
While we are nauseated by the thought of the upstart commie-kid Obama telling the Prime Minister of Israel to lose his country’s war of survival and start making arrangements for its total extinction, we enjoy thinking of Netanyahu (of whom we have been highly critical in the past) saying – however politely – NO.
Today is the centennial anniversary of the start of the First World War. On 28 July, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian army fired the first shots, to crush rebellious Serbia. What happened then, and why, is traced in this video.
Blame is laid on the growth of nationalism, and even more on imperialism – the acquisition of colonies by the powers of Europe on other continents, in fierce competition with each other, Britain being far and away the winner. The fact that at least some empires, chiefly the British, brought incalculable benefits to the lands they conquered, colonized and ruled, is touched on briefly; in our view, too briefly.
We think it is an overview worth watching, though there are points where we would place a different emphasis.
We agree with the presenters that the day World War One broke out was the day Europe began its terminal decline.
UN watch 4
July 23, 2014. The United Nations holds an emergency session on the battle in Gaza as the Israeli Defense Force destroys the invasion-tunnels and rocket bases of the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas.
Delegates from countries that specialize in mass murder, such as Sudan, Syria, Cuba, and Iran, accuse Israel of “war crimes”. Most of the rest of the world’s delegates are on the terrorists’ side too.
A lone voice defends Israel, and accuses its accusers. It is the voice of Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
The United Nations must be destroyed.
We think the recovery of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the Afghan enemy, by exchanging him for five Taliban prisoners of war, has to be looked at the other way round: by which we mean that the main object of the exercise was not the recovery of Sergeant Bergdahl, but the freeing of the five Taliban prisoners.
This is our reconstruction of what happened:
Obama wants to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay aka Gitmo. He said he would close it way back when he was campaigning for his first presidential election. He gave orders for it to be closed soon after his election to the presidency. He failed to get other countries to hold the prisoners. He attempted getting them moved to the US to be tried in civil courts, but failed. Now he is coming towards the last two years of his eight years in office, and is thinking of his “legacy” – what the historians will say of his presidency. It has been a series of failures both domestically and abroad. His far-left “base” is saying that he hasn’t even managed to close Gitmo – a cause dear to its heart.
If only Gitmo could be emptied of its prisoners! But what excuse could the administration find for releasing them? Then someone – possibly even Obama himself – had the bright idea that the prisoners could be exchanged.
Question: How many Americans are being held captive by the Taliban?
Only one? Can we exchange all the prisoners in Gitmo for just one American?
Maybe not all. But we could exchange a bunch of them for him. Let’s exchange the worst of them. The most dangerous. Then perhaps we could just release the rest as being lesser dangers.
Make it so.
If Obama was told that Sergeant Bergdahl was a deserter and not worth exchanging for five high-value Taliban leaders, it would not have troubled him. Far from it. He could all too easily understand a man deserting from the US army.
And then he met Bowe Bergdahl’s parents, and found them to be his sort of people: hippy types – and better still, one of them, the father, a convert to Islam.
To us Bergdahl Senior comes across as a 1960s type rebel who has never grown up. Who rebels against his country as an adolescent rebels against his parents; not because he really admires Muslims and Afghans – whom he probably knows little about – but because he wants to stick his tongue out at his own world, to annoy it, to pretend he is superior to it, to make it take notice of him. Which it is doing now.
For Obama – what a show, what a photo-op. In the Rose Garden. The press, the cameras. I, Obama, with the parents of the soldier I am bringing home … A grand charade on a bright summer’s day. A happy occasion. How splendid we look, I and they.
And what a gorgeous distraction from the real purpose: the freeing of the Taliban leaders, getting to the closing of Gitmo.
No, we cannot prove any of this. But we think it highly plausible.
The entire episode, it seems to us, is an encapsulation of quintessential Obama.
On display, all at once, the elements of his character and his fixed ideas as he has consistently shown them to us: bragging, showing off to a vast audience, lying, hypocrisy, love of Islam, hatred of the US, hatred of the US military, churlish contrariness in giving an enemy the advantage over America, adolescent leftist ideology that is more spite than idea.
The consequences of releasing the five most dangerous Taliban leaders from the cages they belong in (graves would have been better for them) will be bad, but Obama will never take the blame for what must ensue.
The consequence of bargaining with terrorists for the release of a hostage (Sergeant Bergdahl counting as one rightly or wrongly) will be the seizing of Americans to be traded for prisoners and money. But Obama will never admit that he set the fatal precedent.
For that too is part of his essential nature: never to admit or even understand that he was wrong.
How goes Obama’s “pivot” – or “tilt” – to the East?
The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Hagel is quietly busy seeing to it, with feeling:
Hagel, who has made five trips to the Far East in the past year, has sustained President Obama’s long-touted tilt toward Asia, even as he has been a nearly invisible player in the unending crises elsewhere that have eclipsed it.
By interest, history and temperament, Hagel appears to feel a sense of ownership in Asia.
A sense of ownership. What can that mean? Read on, and we may find out.
Despite the stalling of the Pacific trade agreement that is another cornerstone of Obama’s Asia “rebalance” …
What is being referenced here is Obama’s failure to reach a trade agreement with Japan. Notice that the Obamaspeak for “failing” is “stalling”. Implied is a temporary hitch soon to be overcome.
… Hagel can claim steady progress in the military’s role of building regional alliances and partnerships. But those gains risk being overtaken by China’s rapidly worsening relations with its neighbors and escalating belligerency from North Korea.
Yup, a little advance here a huge set-back there.
In a speech Saturday morning to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional defense conference he first attended as a senator more than a decade ago, Hagel criticized China’s “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in asserting its maritime claims against other countries in the region. [Some of his] aides said he purposely used language sharper than in previous public statements on the subject.
Purposely? Is sharp speaking usually done by him inadvertently? Obamarians feel uncomfortable speaking sharply to a foreign audience – other than Israel, of course.
So how sharply?
“We take no position on competing territorial claims,” Hagel said, repeating U.S. insistence that its interests are rooted in a desire to balance alliances with Asia’s smaller partners and a smooth relationship with China.
That sharply? Hang on – here it comes:
“But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion or the threat of force to assert these claims.”
How firmly? As firmly as Obama opposed intimidation, coercion and the actual use of force by Assad and Putin?
The report mentions that intimidation, coercion and the threat of force is ongoing:
New air skirmishes have erupted in recent weeks in the East China Sea with Japan and in contested South China Sea waters with Vietnam.
So how firm on the Obama scale is Mr Hagel? There must be a shadow or a ghost of firmness somewhere about. It was detected by a Chinese lady general in a “restatement” of a “defense commitment” to Japan. Wow!
In questions following Hagel’s remarks, a Chinese general testily asked the defense secretary to explain what she called his own “subtle threat of force” in restating the U.S. defense commitment to Japan even as he called for a negotiated settlement of contesting claims to East China Sea islands.
Watch out now for the assertion that the Obama position is clear. Whenever an Obama position is very faint, particularly uncertain, he or one of his servants will say that it is “clear”:
“America’s position is clear,” Hagel said. “These territorial disputes should be resolved through international law.”
International law. That clear? That firm? “International law” is a will-o-the-wisp, a fancy, a trick of the light, smoke and mirrors.
But at the same time, he said, the United States has treaty commitments to several countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
We like that “but”. There’s the sharpness, you see. “But” the US has treaty commitments. They may involve mention of military support! The big contrast to international law. Strong stuff, like the treaty commitment the US had to defending Ukraine’s independence. When Ukraine’s independence was threatened, when a chunk of its territory was seized by Russia, the US commitment held like cardboard in the rain.
But enough of ghostly saber rattling.
Those Eastern countries towards which Obama is tilting must be reminded of what Obama expects of them. What he expects of them is his policy towards them.
Returning to familiar themes, Hagel nudged South Korea and Japan toward greater defense cooperation that will allow a unified missile defense system against North Korea, which is suspected of preparing a fourth nuclear test. He called on China to play “a more active role” in using its influence on Pyongyang, urged Thailand’s military to restore democracy and praised Burma for ending military dictatorship.
And if they would only take those decisive steps, US partnership would prove a real boon.
If anything, Hagel indicated, “the Asia-Pacific’s shifting security landscape makes America’s partnerships and alliances indispensable as anchors for regional stability.” …
While budgets may be cut elsewhere, Hagel said, “both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” where they have said 60 percent of U.S. air and naval assets will be based by 2020.
Although the administration has promised that resources saved by ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be used both for the Asia rebalance and for the new Middle East and African counterterrorism strategy that Obama outlined this past week in an address at the U.S. Military Academy, a senior defense official said little competition was involved.
What could he mean by “competition”. Could he mean (shudder!) a possibility of military opposition? None of that sort of thing? So what matters are the alliances in themselves, not any purpose beyond them. Do not even think it.
Asia, Hagel said in his speech, is an example of the stronger “global partnerships and alliances” Obama described this week as a cornerstone of his foreign and security policy. …
Now at last we are told why Hagel has “a sense of ownership in Asia”. Get ready to be impressed.
Hagel’s Vietnam experience is only part of his attachment to Asia, the senior defense official said. His father was a bomber tail-gunner in the Pacific in World War II. As president of the USO and a business executive who founded a lucrative cellphone network, Hagel traveled frequently to the region even before his election to the Senate in 1996.
And that adds up to –
“I’ve got this long history, this confluence with my background, my history,” said [an] official, describing what he said was Hagel’s thought process. “It’s what I’m good at, what I’m interested in.”
We won’t even dignify all that with a comment – the silliness speaks for itself.
What we have to understand is that Hagel is determined to succeed. You may find this hard to believe, but he is as determined to succeed in the Far East as Secretary of State John Kerry was determined to succeed in the Middle East. That determined.
[His] aides portray Hagel’s dedication to the Asia-Pacific and his determination to succeed here as equal to that of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s highly publicized (but stalled) efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace, only with less media attention and more potential for long-term success.
More potential, eh? Efforts that will not “stall”? There’s optimism for you!
Meanwhile what is going on with the Far East in the real world?
Events so huge that they mark “a major alteration in the global balance of power”.
Charles Krauthammer writes (May 22, 2014) at the Washington Post:
It finally happened — the pivot to Asia. No, not the United States. It was Russia that turned East.
In Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a spectacular energy deal — $400 billion of Siberian natural gas to be exported to China over 30 years.
This is huge. By indelibly linking producer and consumer — the pipeline alone is a $70 billion infrastructure project — it deflates the post-Ukraine Western threat (mostly empty, but still very loud) to cut European imports of Russian gas. Putin has just defiantly demonstrated that he has other places to go.
The Russia-China deal also makes a mockery of U.S. boasts to have isolated Russia because of Ukraine. Not even Germany wants to risk a serious rupture with Russia (hence the absence of significant sanctions). And now Putin has just ostentatiously unveiled a signal 30-year energy partnership with the world’s second-largest economy. Some isolation.
The contrast with President Obama’s own vaunted pivot to Asia is embarrassing (to say nothing of the Keystone pipeline with Canada). He went to Japan last month also seeking a major trade agreement that would symbolize and cement a pivotal strategic alliance. He came home empty-handed.
Does the Obama foreign policy team even understand what is happening? For them, the Russia-China alliance is simply more retrograde, 19th-century, balance-of-power maneuvering by men of the past oblivious to the reality of a 21st century governed by law and norms. A place where, for example, one simply doesn’t annex a neighbor’s territory. Indeed, Obama scolds Russia and China for not living up to their obligations as major stakeholders in this new interdependent world.
The Chinese and Russians can only roll their eyes. These norms and rules mean nothing to them. Sure, they’ll join the World Trade Organization for the commercial advantages – then cheat like hell with cyberespionage and intellectual piracy. They see these alleged norms as forms of velvet-glove imperialism, clever extensions of a Western hegemony meant to keep Russia in its reduced post-Soviet condition and China contained by a dominant US military.
Obama cites modern rules; Russia and China, animated by resurgent nationalism, are governed by ancient maps. Putin refers to eastern and southern Ukraine by the old czarist term of “New Russia”. And China’s foreign minister justifies vast territorial claims that violate maritime law by citing traditional (“nine-dash”) maps that grant China dominion over the East and South China seas.
Which makes this alignment of the world’s two leading anti-Western powers all the more significant.
It marks a major alteration in the global balance of power. …
China and Russia together represent the core of a new coalition of anti-democratic autocracies challenging the Western-imposed, post-Cold War status quo.
Their enhanced partnership marks the first emergence of a global coalition against American hegemony since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Indeed, at this week’s Asian cooperation conference, Xi proposed a brand-new continental security system to include Russia and Iran (lest anyone mistake its anti-imperialist essence) and exclude America.
This is an open challenge to the post-Cold War, US-dominated world that Obama inherited and then weakened beyond imagining.
If carried through, it would mark the end of a quarter-century of unipolarity. And herald a return to a form of bipolarity — two global coalitions: one free, one not… [A] struggle … for dominion and domination.
To which Obama, who once proclaimed that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” is passive, perhaps even oblivious. His pivot to Asia remains a dead letter. Yet his withdrawal from the Middle East — where from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, from Libya to Syria, US influence is at its lowest ebb in 40 years — is a fait accompli.
The retreat is compounded by Obama’s proposed massive cuts in defense spending … even as Russia is rearming and China is creating a sophisticated military soon capable of denying America access to the waters of the Pacific Rim.
Decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. In this case, Obama’s choice. And it’s the one area where he can be said to be succeeding splendidly.